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Waystone

An Elven waystone

Waystones are towering rune-carved menhirs that channel and redirect the Winds of Magic. Each waystone collects the raw power of Chaos and directs it to an inward neighbour. Thus are the magical energies of the world inexorably drawn, like the waters of a whirlpool, to Ulthuan's heart. There the magic is drained from the world by the Great Vortex.[1a]

For the High Elves, there is also a secondary purpose. It is said that, to hungry gods, Elven spirit-stuff is the most delectable of all prizes. Slaanesh, the Dark Prince of Chaos, is rapacious in all his appetites, but thirsts for Elven souls beyond all others. Those few who escape his maw must then evade the grasp of Ereth Khial, the Pale Queen. Such fates are truly worse than death, ending either in total obliteration of the soul, or torment without end.[1b]

To guard against this, all High Elves are spiritually bound to the waystones of their ancestral lands. From the moment of binding onwards, each Elf feels a powerful connection to the land upon which his waystone rests, though he may spend a lifetime wandering other lands. Many High Elves carry wayshards, small gemstones attuned to the network of waystones that allow their bearers to 'feel' the position of individual stones, and thus navigate the world.[1b]

When an Elf dies, his soul is drawn to his bound waystone, and becomes part of the ritual that sustains the Great Vortex. In this way, the folk of Ulthuan continue to protect, in death, the world they defended in life. It is even said that, at midnight, the hills and fields about a waystone tremble to the gallop of invisible hooves and ring with the din of a battle that lies beyond mortal sight.[1b]

Thus is the loss of even a single waystone a terrible tragedy. Not only does its fall diminish the magics of the Great Vortex, but with its destruction, the spirits within lose their anchor, and are left defenceless before the gaze of predatory gods.[1b]

Meanwhile, the Wood Elves utilize waystones differently. The forest of Athel Loren is a mystical place whose shadow lies far across the Old World, its outer bounds marked with waystones, placed there by the first Elven settlers to contain the wild lands within, the branches of great trees ever straining to escape the magical barrier thus created.[2a]

In the high realm of Cythral, another fence of waystones is maintained, creating the Wildwood — a prison for the most malevolent of forest spirits.[2b]

On occasion, when summer is at its highest, the trees can even overwhelm the waystones and spill into the lands beyond. When this happens, the Spellsingers and Spellweavers of Athel Loren quickly let loose their magics in order to coax the trees back to their proper home.[2c]

History

In the centuries following the creation of the Vortex, the people of Ulthuan set about restoring and extending the network of massive menhirs and obelisks that criss-crossed their island continent and all the continents of the world. The best guess is the first of these lines of obelisks had been erected by the near-mythic Old Ones countless millennia before as both a means of travelling across the world in an instant and also to manage the trickles of magic they had used to shape the world to their design. These various obelisks (referred to most commonly as Waystones, although they are also referred to as Fay Stones, Elf Stones, and many others) lay upon fault-lines in reality, either natural or somehow created by the interference of the Old Ones. After the first war against Chaos and the disappearance of Aenarion and Caledor, the Elves harnessed these Leylines to act as an aid and focus for the Great Vortex itself. Aethyric energy was already drawn to these Leylines to power the Old Ones’ network of minor portals. The Elves took it upon themselves to study and alter the Leylines so that would act as a kind of boost for the Vortex they had created—the energy drawn to them redirected towards Ulthuan and the Great Vortex.[3a]

In time, the Dwarf Kingdoms learned from the Elves of the Great Vortex and the nature of the lines of Aethyric power that criss-crossed the world. They were still recovering from the horrific predations of Chaos and were gaining an understanding of the vital importance of draining magic out of the world. The Dwarfs used their own considerable understanding of how to bind magic to objects through runecraft to extend and improve the Waystone network. The Elves and Dwarfs erected many thousands more Waystones across the world along existing Leylines, connecting to and enhancing the stones and lines created by the Old Ones. In time, these hybrid lines of Old Ones, Elf, and Dwarf arcane artisanship came to be the focus of truly massive amounts of magical energy and became integral to Ulthuan’s Vortex system.[3a]

Much later, the savage tribes of Humans that had begun to migrate across the Old World came to believe that the Waystones (or Ogham as they referred to them) had been placed by Gods and spirits. They began to erect their own crude standing stones in mimicry of the more ancient ones. Many of these stones were little more than markers of great battles or the resting places of chieftains. There were many others that the early Humans, sensitive to the flows of magic, erected over existing lines of power, or places contaminated by warpstone and so on. Most of these Human-built stones and Henges were endowed with great religious significance and were often places of meeting, worship, and sacrifice.[3a]

To this day, from continent to continent the majority of these obelisks and the Leylines they rest upon draw the Winds of Magic into themselves, then guide these energies in a great spiral towards Ulthuan and the Vortex. Throughout history, magic users of all kinds have both wittingly and instinctively built their dwellings along these lines of Aethyric power. Many places of great arcane disturbance can be found where two or more of these lines intersect. These intersections form important hub points, or Henges, in the Ogham network, where several different Leylines will meet and the flows of magic will join and be focussed through an even larger line. Although they can be found across the mortal realms, the greatest concentration of Henges in the Old World can be found in the foothills of Karak Eight Peaks, within Athel Loren and the Laurelorn Forest, and all across the misty isle of Albion—where the word “Ogham” is said to originate.[3a]

Ulthuan is the destination and focal point for all the channelled magic that is drawn along the world’s many Leylines. It is also the destination for the raw Winds of Magic that blow across the known world from the Northern Wastes. As a result, Ulthuan is the focus of titanic amounts of magical energy, as the Winds of Magic and the focused magic of the Leylines converge upon its shores and gradually form into the Great Vortex itself before draining out of the world and back into the Aethyr. Should the Waystone and Leyline network be damaged enough, the fine balance of energies may well collapse and consume Ulthuan in a holocaust of raw power, turning it into another Realm of Chaos.[3a][3b]

Corrupting the Waystones

Magic users of all kinds choose to build their temples, residences, and laboratories above intersections in the Waystone network where they can tap into some or all of the facets of magic flowing through them. Part of the arcane genius of the Leylines is that they keep the Winds of Magic concentrated and flowing in a dynamic fashion. A Magister of the Order of Light would be able to tap into and draw upon the energies of Hysh far more easily as it is focussed along a Leyline.[3b]

Leylines are also a very attractive prospect for those that draw upon mixes of the colours of magic, either in the clean form of High Magic or in the dangerous form of Dark Magic, because all colours are present as they flow along the Leylines. Certain powerful and entirely corrupted warlocks and necromancers have found ways to corrupt the Leylines as they pass through Henges. If the exit path of magic entering the Henge can be blocked or destroyed, then the magic flowing into the Henge will be trapped within the stone circle itself, unable to move onward and unable to leak out into the atmosphere unless tapped into directly by a magic user. Such a thing is terrible, for not only does it risk destabilising the delicate balance of the Great Vortex, but it also means that the magic contained within the Henge will gradually combine and stagnate into that most dangerous of all Aethyric energy, Dhar.[3b]

Whilst there are some naturally occurring areas that lead to the combination and stagnation of magic into True Dhar, these areas tend to be flukes and are generally temporary, lasting anywhere from just a couple years to a couple of centuries. However, if a Henge can be corrupted, magic continues to flow into it indefinitely, never leaving unless actively drawn out by a spellcaster. This would mean that the Henge would have an ever-growing and ever more stagnant and destructive supply of Dhar, killing all life within proximity to the Henge and perhaps even coalescing slowly over the millennia into Warpstone.[3b]

This kind of Henge is truly a necromancer’s dream. It is magic (or soul fire) trapped wholly upon the mortal plane and yet cut off from the flows of magic and the dictates of the Aethyr’s denizens. That is, energies unable to wildly warp and mutate the physical world around because of its containment.[3b]

All sanctioned and sane Magisters in the Old World and beyond will do everything they can to prevent the corruption of the Waystone network and its Henges, even if most of them do not perfectly understand how the lines work. In fact, it is not unknown for Magisters on official College business, or even marching to war with the force to which they have been seconded, to delay or suddenly abandon their mission if faced with the horror of a magically blocked or corrupted Henge. The Magisters may attempt to destroy the Henge altogether—though Elven mages would look upon such an endeavour as insane and even more dangerous than leaving the Henge corrupted. An Elven mage would not stop working until the Henge returned to normal.[3b]

Gallery

Source

  • 1: Warhammer Armies: High Elves (8th Edition)
    • 1a: pg. 9
    • 1b: pg. 26
  • 2: Warhammer Armies: Wood Elves (8th Edition)
    • 2a: pg. 9
    • 2b: pg. 12
    • 2c: pg. 13
  • 3: Warhammer Fantasy RPG (2nd ED): Realms of Sorcery
    • 3a: pg. 41
    • 3b: pg. 42